Going Green

Hazel Bond

It’s a guilt thing really.

I am told if I’m not part of the solution I am part of the problem and it is my carbon footprint that is the immediate problem. Determined on a solution I’m into recycling in a big way. My spare room is devoted to the collection, all classified into type of waste and white paper separated from coloured paper. I make sure to take it out to the pavement early every Wednesday morning, while still in my dressing gown.

However, it does present problems. I wash out the milk carton to save cardboard for recycling, but then I am using water, which I must save for future generations. I wipe the dinner plates and the frying pan with paper before washing them so as not to use too much water, but then I am using paper. This must be preserved at all costs because of those forests that are essential to the survival of the planet. They will be denuded if I keep on using paper at this rate. Then we will have more global warming, which I am trying so hard to prevent.

Being parsimonious with water meant my kettle ran dry. So I had the expense of a new one. Not only that but I fear my old kettle is not biodegradable. How on earth will the scrap heap cope with that then?



I use email instead of writing and posting letters. This saves paper but uses electricity, which I must conserve at all costs, especially in South Africa. Eskom demands it but indeed the whole world is surely using much more electricity since the advent of computers than it ever did before. Strangely more paper has also been used since their appearance in the world. Where is the heralded paperless society? It is now too easy to reprint where a mistake has been made. Previously we would have painted it with Tippex and typed over that. Before Tippex there were little rubbers on a wheel with a brush at one end. As far as natty little inventions went we thought that was top of the range. Computers make it easier to have multiple copies too. In the days of carbon paper no matter how you hammered the typewriter three was the limit. The fourth was too faint to read. For more you had to start again. Ah noisy old typewriters, the non-electric ones. Do the people reading this remember them? But I digress. It is my role that I’m stressing about.

I’ve bought a new car, which, they promise me, is low on carbon emissions. But how low is low enough? Shouldn’t I have one with no emissions at all? Shouldn’t we all simply stop using cars? That should do away with a great deal of carbon. But would it? I understand that horse dung has its own form of emissions. I have to use a car, of course, because I must eat. Groceries will not come to me of their own accord. Neither will they get to the supermarket on a flying carpet. They must be transported there by a petrol or diesel-eating machine and removed from there by my low emission little car. I could walk to the shops if I had most of the day free to do so. However it’s carrying the goods back that presents the problem. My arms can’t cope like the boot of my car does.



On winter mornings I use the water from my hot water bottle to wash my hands. I keep that water in the hand basin instead of letting it down the plughole so that I can use it several times. It’s like when we were on the farm as kids. An enamel basin on a metal stand was put on the veranda for all of us to wash our hands in before a meal. Granny poured water in it from a big enamel jug. The trouble with this custom in my home is that the water is connected to the tap above the basin. It issues a thin stream if it is not fiercely and most thoroughly switched off. This leads eventually to a silent overflow that floods the bathroom. If it just plopped into the water stored there one drop at a time I would hear the plop, plop of it. I have had three plumbers in to deal with it. They all told me it was fixed. Every time a week later, it wasn’t. The flooded bathroom means cloths and towels to the rescue. Then those have to be washed, which leads to more use of water and more electricity as I stick them in the washing machine.

My friend uses electricity as little as possible so when she tripped over a box in the dark it involved the doctor calling, spewing forth carbon emissions as he came. Then there were x-rays, theatre lights for the operation of fixing bones and all those bits of electrical machinery that assured the anaesthetist that she was alive.

I switch off the geyser twenty-one hours a day and get a cool surprise when the shower won’t come warm because I forget to switch it on again for that indispensable three hours.

The television told us to use blankets instead of heaters this winter. Always obedient, I have blankets in the lounge and at the computer. However if, through the lack of a heater, I need medical attention I must visit the doctor or he must come to me and we all know what that means – carbon emissions again.

How else can I reduce my carbon and my guilt? I’ve cleared my garden of alien plants. I’m using and re-using old envelopes but then there is this world-wide population problem. Billions of people all over the world.

Sad to say I haven’t had any children. It goes without saying, no grandchildren either. However, there is a bright side to that. No guilt trip in this department because they can’t blame overpopulation on me.